Compustar CS4900-S uses your phone to keep car thieves at bay. Along with the car alarm alerts, the Compustar doubles as a GPS vehicle tracker, maintenance reminder, anti-theft sensor, and all-around hub for monitoring your ride.
2022’s Best Aftermarket Car Alarms
Compare the best car alarms
Diesel engine safe
|Best bundle||$149.95||3,000 ft.|
|Pro recommended||View on Amazon|
|Best value||$136.00||1,500 ft.|
|DIY||View on Amazon|
|Budget pick||$16.99||65 ft.|
|DIY||View on Amazon|
|Best simple keyless entry||$199.99||1,500 ft.|
|Pro recommended||View on Best Buy|
|Easy to install||$127.98||Unlimited|
|Pro||View on Amazon|
*Amazon.com list price as of post date. Read full disclaimer.
1. Compustar CS4900-S: Best bundle
Compustar CS4900-S combines affordability and features to produce a great middle-of-the-road choice for auto enthusiasts. It fits a huge range of automatic transmission vehicles, including those with diesel engines.
This Compustar car alarm bundle comes with two keyfobs to lock and unlock your vehicle from up to 3,000 feet away. You can also pop open your trunk and start your car remotely from the same fobs.
And with a little automotive know-how, you can install the Compustar CS4900-S car alarm at home—no professionals required.
Many car alarms, especially those with remote starting features can be tricky on your own, but we saw review after review praising the instructions and easy installation. But it helps to have experience with wiring before you get started.
2. Avital 5305L: Best value
The Avital 5305L is the budget-savvy sister system of high-end car alarm brands Viper and Python, offering similar features from the same manufacturer.
Avital’s 5305L car alarm system has all the recommended security like shock sensors and panic mode, as well as flashing lights, a blaring 120-decibel siren, and a kill switch that protects against carjacking.
Unlike lower-end Avital models, this car alarm features a two-way, LCD pager loaded with conveniences like keyless entry, remote start, trunk release, and Valet Mode. The four auxiliary ports let you beef up the system with additional sensors, all for a price that’s a steal.
Beware that any bargain comes with some loss of benefits. In addition to a mediocre range of 1,500 feet, Avital’s lack of smartphone integration means you won’t have the convenience of GPS tracking built into your car alarm system. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t work for vehicles with manual transmissions.
3. Mengshen Anti-Theft Alarm: Budget pick
For under $20, you can add a blaring alarm to your car, motorcycle, bike, or anything you want to keep safe. The Mengshen Anti-Theft Alarm is a simple battery-powered siren that fits in your vehicle or other ride.
Like standard car alarms, it comes with a key fob you can use to arm or disarm the alarm. You can adjust the sensitivity settings to catch minor vibrations like someone jostling your bike lock or tapping on your windows.
So while you’ll miss out on the fancy features like remote starting or vehicle tracking, it’s a great extra line of defense against snoopers who might steal your ride.
4. Viper 1-way: Best simple keyless entry
If you’re looking for a simple car alarm to replace your existing one, the Viper 1-way is a great place to start. The only bells and whistles included are the ones that keep thieves away.
With the fob, you can lock and unlock your car from 1,500 feet away. It’s a short range compared to some of our other choices, but it will give you a long enough reach to unlock your car in the parking lot or from inside your home.
It comes with a Failsafe Starter Kill, a feature that kills the engine while the alarm blares. So no one will be able to take your vehicle while the alarm is on.
5. DroneMobile X1 LTE: Easy to install
The DroneMoble X1 LTE is one heck of a multitasker. On top of notifying you when your car alarm sounds, it can track your vehicle’s location, overall health, and driver safety. It’s a great addition for a new driver’s safety arsenal or keeping older drivers safe on the road.
It sends notifications to your phone when your car alarm goes off. And like other car alarms, you can lock and unlock your car with it through your smartphone.
The DroneMobile works using cellular signals, giving you an unlimited leash to your car as long as you have reception. Its features may vary depending on your vehicle; check DroneMobile’s list of compatible makes.
And while you can purchase it online through Amazon, you’ll need to get it professionally installed. The device does require a subscription to keep that digital juice flowing. Prices range from $3.99 per month to $39.99 depending on the features you want and what’s compatible with your vehicle.
Since 2020, the pandemic has kept many folks comfortably at home and their cars in their parking spaces. With this decrease in activity, car thefts rose in 2020 nationwide.1
Having an aftermarket car alarm can help scare off thieves in the act, but they can’t work alone.
If you want to make your car a little safer, consider pairing your new car alarm with devices like these to deter criminals and find your car if it is stolen:
Check out the SafeWise Car Safety Guide for more tips on securing your vehicle.
Things to consider before you buy a car alarm
Most modern vehicles come equipped with a basic alarm system, but these bare-bones measures aren’t robust enough to deter professional car thieves. Experts recommend a range of bells and whistles to avoid car theft and give your ride the protection it deserves.
Plus, when you opt for an aftermarket car alarm system, you usually get a few more convenient features bundled in. Here are some of the basics to look for when choosing a car alarm system.
Alarms and sensors
At the minimum, your car alarm system should make some noise when the sensors are tripped. Opt for advanced shock sensors that will respond when glass is broken and when the vehicle is hit by a significant impact.
These sensors will trigger your alarm remote or smartphone. Look for sirens that edge above 100 decibels and do more than honk the horn and flash the lights to grab attention.
Some car alarm systems boast a phenomenal range of up to a mile. Look for a car alarm system that reaches your vehicle from at least 1,000 feet so it can arm itself from a distance. That way, you’ll be confident your alarm is set every time you walk away.
Carjack protection is a group of features that actively thwart car theft. These options include kill switches, high-pitched sirens, and chirp alarms that may hassle the thief into abandoning your vehicle.
While these kinds of security measures may seem redundant, they’ve been shown to effectively deter car thieves or interrupt vehicle theft in action.
Two-way remotes and displays
Modern car alarm systems generally have two-way communication, meaning you can arm your car at a distance and also receive notifications from the alarm system on your remote.
In some cases, these key fobs even use an LCD display to detail conditions of your car like the internal temperature or open doors.
Not all car thieves use a crowbar or Slim Jim to get into your car. Tech-savvy thieves know how to hack the signal from your key fob and unlock your car remotely. That’s why smart car alarm companies are adding encryption to their wireless car alarms.
If you like the convenience of remote entry, you might want to look for a vehicle security system that incorporates encryption to keep hackers out of your car.
It’s no surprise that some keyless cars come with car security you can control from your smartphone. Leading vehicle security companies like Viper use cloud technology to put remote control and monitoring in the palm of your hand.
Mobile apps let you check in on your vehicle and receive email and text alerts without having to carry around an extra remote or key fob. Often, these apps also provide GPS tracking that can be enormously helpful in the case of theft.
Ease of installation
Installing a car alarm system involves a lot of wires and fiddling around with your car’s electrical system. Because it can be complicated, we recommend professional installation.
However, this can raise the overall price of a car alarm by several hundred dollars. If you want to attempt DIY installation, you’re not alone. Many handy car owners have successfully installed their alarm system. But beware that DIY installation might impact any warranty on the equipment.
Many car alarms will also let you remotely start your vehicle, which can be a big benefit on cold mornings when you need to defrost your windows and heat up those seats before your commute.
Car alarm systems often provide extras like keyless entry, valet mode, and trunk release that can make your life just a little easier when you have your hands full.
Car alarm system FAQ
When installed correctly, modern aftermarket car alarm systems should not place a significant strain on your battery. That’s one of the many reasons we recommend professional installation for the car alarm systems we review.
If you have concerns, check the manufacturer’s specifications for details about the anticipated burden on your battery.
As with most products, your ability to self-install will depend on the complexity of the system and your expertise.
We recommend professional installation for car alarm systems because there is a risk you could invalidate your warranty or place a strain on the battery with improper installation.
Avoiding car theft is about more than outfitting your ride with a state-of-the-art alarm system. Consider additional measures like steering wheel locks, or choose an option from our best car dash cams for extra security.
The more redundant protection measures you take, the less likely it is that your car will become a target
Naturally, you should contact authorities, but you can do so armed with additional information if you have a car alarm system with GPS tracking.
There are some common sense measures you can also take if you’re dealing with a car break-in to make things like insurance claims and police reports a little easier on everyone involved.
How quickly your car alarm system can be disabled depends on the security features it’s equipped with and the skill of the thief attempting to steal your ride.
While they might be a headache during false alarms, carjacking protections like kill switches and advanced encryption are two key factors that can determine how easily car thieves hotwire your ignition or bypass your car alarm.
How we reviewed the best aftermarket car alarms
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- Stephanie Dazio, Associated Press, “Lock Your Cars! Vehicle Theft Spikes In COVID-19 Pandemic,” May 2020. Accessed January 17, 2022.
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